Reese News Lab launched its newest service, Campaign Hound, almost exactly a month ago. The service is funded by the Knight News Challenge, an initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Since then, the Campaign Hound team has been hard at work researching target markets and attracting potential subscribers.
Campaign Hound is a service that records planned public speeches made by North Carolina candidates running for governor and U.S. Senate. It provides searchable transcripts of those speeches and keyword alerts to subscribers.
The service’s goal is to give journalists access to public remarks even when candidates are speaking far from their locations. It will also provide a searchable database of speeches of use to campaigns and advocacy groups for research and advertising purposes.
Hannah Wang, project manager for Campaign Hound, describes what daily life is like at work for the startup venture.
Where did the idea for Campaign Hound come from?
Wang: Campaign Hound is a spinoff from one of the first Reese News Lab experiments, Capitol Hound. Capitol Hound records and archives state legislative meetings to increase transparency and accountability.
With Campaign Hound, we’re trying to bring those qualities earlier into the political cycle by tracking candidates.
Who is using Campaign Hound? Who are your target audiences?
Our main users are local news organizations around North Carolina. They’re the ones providing most of the information about the non-presidential campaigns, and we want to help them do that better. We’re also reaching out to advocacy groups who have a stake in state-level politics.
How many subscribers do you have so far? How many are you expecting to attract?
Right now we have five media partners that are subscribed to Campaign Hound, who also help us collect audio from different events. Ultimately, we would see this as a success if enough organizations subscribe to allow us to cover our costs and keep Campaign Hound running.
What are you working on? What do your daily responsibilities consist of?
My main responsibility is tracking down the candidates and figuring out where they’re going next. This is harder than we expected! There’s no one way to find out about campaign events, so our process is a bit of a Rube Goldberg machine made up of Twitter, Facebook, newsletters, Google Alerts, and our partners.
What does Campaign Hound need moving forward?
We’d love to work more with the candidates throughout their campaign. Campaign Hound wants to keep candidates accountable, but we also want to help lesser-known candidates get their messages out.
What is the ultimate goal for Campaign Hound? What do you hope to see as its future?
At the end of the day, we hope that Campaign Hound helps news organizations produce more thorough and issue-driven coverage of candidates and leads to a more informed voter.